Texas death row inmate Hank Skinner is set to be executed on November 9.
… Skinner (who has already come within an hour of execution) is about to be executed despite the fact that there is testable DNA from the murder weapon, the rape kit, hairs one of the victims was found clutching, and a jacket left at the crime scene similar to one worn by another possible suspect, all of which has yet to be tested.
And it’s even worse than that. The state started testing on the hairs a decade ago. When preliminary mitochondrial testing came back negative as a match to either Skinner or the victim, the state just decided to stop further testing.
It’s one thing to consider all of the evidence, find it unconvincing, and then proceed with an execution despite strong disagreement from the suspect’s supporters. It’s a whole other level of moral culpability to deliberately remain ignorant about evidence that could definitively establish guilt or innocence.
The testing will at most cost a few thousand dollars. Skinner’s attorneys and a lab and Arizona have already agreed to cover that cost. It would take no longer than a few months… . I have no idea if Hank Skinner is guilty. Neither does the state of Texas. The difference is that I and anyone with a lick of conscience would prefer we find out before the man is put to death.
—Radley Balko, Hank Skinner execution date less than a month away, ub The Agitator (2011-10-10)
But of course the State has no conscience; it only has a Process, and that Process has been followed as long as the State’s henchmen can remain officially ignorant of exculpatory evidence. All of which is to say, a sad and dangerous gang of men — law-makers, prosecutors, judges, prison-guards and executioners — have shoved their conscience and their intelligence out of the way, and filled up the empty space with the excuses of legality and the ceremoniously-safeguarded ignorance of the state’s Criminal Justice System. In reality they are nothing more than a lynch mob in badges, suits, uniforms and black robes.
R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis (Oct. 9, 1968 – Sep. 21, 2011)
Troy Davis executed. ABC World News (21 September 2011).
Troy Davis was executed this evening after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute stay of execution.
Davis died at 11:08 p.m. ET, according to a Georgia Department of Corrections official.
Eyewitnesses described the mood in the execution chamber as “somber” as Davis declared his innocence a final time and relatives of his alleged murder victim looked on.
The execution was delayed more than four hours as the U.S. Supreme Court weighed last-minute arguments from Davis’ legal team and the state of Georgia over whether his execution should be blocked.
The court’s decision to deny the stay came without comment after 10 p.m. ET.
[…] Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah, Ga., policeman Mark MacPhail, and had his execution stayed four times over the course of his 22 years on death row, but multiple legal appeals during that time failed to prove his innocence.
Public support grew for Davis based on the recanted testimony of seven witnesses from his trial and the possible confession of another suspect, which his defense team claimed cast too much doubt on Davis’ guilt to follow through with an execution.
Several witnesses recanted their testimony that Davis fired the shot that killed MacPhail.
Troy Davis was innocent and this was a premeditated murder by the State of Georgia — nothing more and nothing less than a torturous, slow-motion legal lynching. The courts, the governors, and the parole boards knew that there was every reason to doubt his guilt, but they don’t give a damn, because each court formally refused to listen to or consider any substantive new evidence — like the fact that there was no physical evidence to connect Davis to the murder, and more than half the witnesses admitted that they lied on the stand (under intense pressure from Georgia police) during the original trial. Be that as it may the sentence had been passed and the paperwork filed and you can hardly stop to consider substantive evidence of innocence once the procedural question of his trial has been sealed under the authority of the State. You can’t stop the machine of governmental justice from grinding for something so paltry as an innocent man’s life; there’s a principle involved.
And the principle is power. The power of death. That is the Majesty of the Law; that is its morality; that is its justice.
Supreme Court Firms Up State Immunity From Wrongful Conviction Lawsuits. Radley Balko: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts. (2011-04-25):
By a ideologically right-left, 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today (PDF) that a wrongly convicted Louisiana man—who at one point was just weeks away from execution—isn't permitted to sue the DA's office that for 14 years sat on the evidence proving his innocence. Jacob Sullum wrote about Connick...
We need government courts instead of private protection and arbitration because private protection associations would be accountable to the rich and powerful instead of being accountable to the people.